Wellington-Napoleon rolls St. Mary's
By Stephen Bubalo PrepsKC staff writer
The Class 1 top-ranked Wellington-Napoleon Tigers steamrolled their way to a perfect regular season and a district title tonight with a 54-6 win over St. Mary’s at Truman High School.
This one got out of hand in a hurry, as the Tigers showed by they’re No. 1 in the state by taking a 42-0 lead after one quarter of play.
“Coach tells us every game we have to come out at 100 percent and score a bunch of points,” Tiger wide receiver Brandon Niendick said. “We can’t take anybody lightly.”
That was no problem on this night.
Nathan Arndt got the scoring started on the second play of the game, scampering into the end zone from 53 yards out. The rout was on.
“We try to make a statement early every game,” Niendick said.
There were plenty more statements to be made.
The Tigers would score touchdowns on their next six possessions to put them ahead 48-0 at the half.
St. Mary’s didn’t do themselves any favors, as they had penalties and sacks push them back, allowed the Tigers to recover a pooch kickoff on top of the fact that they just had trouble moving the ball against a bigger, stronger team.
“They’re the No. 1 team in the state for a reason,” Trojans head coach Jason Fenstermaker said. “Against a team like that the last thing you want to do is beat yourself and we did that in the beginning. It snowballed quickly.”
The Tigers got contributions from a host of playmakers, as five different players scored touchdowns.
“We have a lot of weapons and we try to use them all,” Tigers head coach Quenton Bainbridge said. “When you have a lot of weapons you can do a lot of different things.”
Arndt had another touchdown run late in the first half, a 13-yard run, while Christian Bryant (20-yard catch), Blain Beissenherz (74-yard catch) and backup quarterback Jake Ruskey (3-yard run) all scored touchdowns as well.
But the man of the night was Niendick who had scoring catches of 40 and 39 yards, respectively, from quarterback Jacob Beckemeyer, and returned a punt 54 yards for a score.
“At halftime I looked at the seniors and told them, ‘That is one of the greatest things you can do,’” Niendick said of returning the punt for the score. “It gets your adrenaline going.”
Wellington-Napoleon is now 10-0 on the season and ever since a win over second-ranked Concordia on Sept. 30 that propelled the Tigers to No. 1 in the state, they have been dominating lesser opponents, winning their last four games by a combined score of 220-38.
But Bainbridge said his team has stayed focused.
“This stretch has tested us mentally,” he said. “I wondered how the kids would respond … and I’m proud of how they’ve been playing.”
Meanwhile, the Trojans fell to 3-7 on the season but are still headed to the playoffs after going 2-1 in district play. It’s just the sixth time the program has advanced to the playoffs and the first time in a decade.
Fenstermaker said there was a much-deserved celebration after their win over Orrick put them into the postseason, but he hopes now his team can get back to business and make something happen in game No. 11.
“I told them two things,” he said. “We’re already in the playoffs so we can act like there is no reason to work hard; or since we’re already in the playoffs let’s try and surprise somebody. I hope they’re saving it for next week.”
The playoff goal for the Tigers is a little different, as they’re not just glad to be here, they’ll only be glad if it ends in St. Louis with a chance for a state championship. They were one game shy of the Edward Jones Dome last season and despite the fact that they’re No. 1 in the state right now, they don’t necessarily feel like just the hunted.
“We’ve been saying that we were the hunters but now that we’re No. 1 we’re the hunted,” Niendick said. “But we still consider ourselves hunters because we’re looking for that state championship.”
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